The typical office affair has been left in the dust as online affairs are on the rise; creating a rather cloudy space as to whether it constitutes as cheating.

Internet sites like Ashley Madison a ‘Canadian-based online dating service and social networking service marketed to people who are married or in a committed relationship.’

Yes you read correctly, it’s targeted at married people or those who are in a long-term relationship.

With the slogan “Life is short. Have an affair’’, from sexy private messages to cybersex. Researchers at the Open University in the UK wanted to find out exactly what constitutes as internet cheating.

As such, they conducted a survey and found that men and women have varied perceptions on cyber infidelity. Doctor’s Andreas Vossler and Naomi Moller who are psychology lecturers at the university have looked at three commonly used definitions with regards to cheating.

These are: the obvious sexual intercourse, extra-dyadic activities and emotional betrayal (where cheaters do not necessarily have to be face to face to cheat.)

An anonymous online survey was conducted amongst 20 – 73-year olds, where they had to come clean about their experiences with internet infidelity; whether they or their partners engaged in it.

Why? According to Medical Daily, it allowed the researchers to uncover real-life evidence regarding extramarital activities that are taking place during a time when the number of online affairs is on the increase.

With many participants believing that the Internet makes infidelity more likely, is that because us humans have bought into the idea that the internet is a safe anonymous space where people cannot judge us and there is no chance of getting caught?

Researchers found that “revealed the Internet, specifically social media, has a disinhibiting effect on people, making it easier for cheaters to engage in risky behaviours that may be avoided in real life.” Such as, cybersex, online dating or flirting, exchanging sexual snaps.

One participant saying that “if we hadn’t established and maintained any sort of contact online, the affair would not have started, as we very rarely bumped into each other”.

Naturally there was a gender divide when it came down to internet infidelity perceptions as women viewed a large amount of internet activities as cheating and found it more upsetting.

A another study, published in the Australian Journal of Counselling Psychology, in 2008 found that out of 183 adults who were currently or recently in a relationship, more than 10 percent had participated in an intimate online relationship.

With 8 percent experiencing cybersex and 6 percent who had actually met their internet partners in person, however more than half of the participants believed that being in an online relationship does not constitute unfaithfulness.

Yet, ‘the numbers climbed when it came to those who believed it was unfaithful to have cybersex (71 percent) and meet in person (82 percent).’

This makes one ponder as to, exactly who is in your or your partner’s bedroom? As the more technology advances, the more common online affairs can become.

A ‘lil dirt…

The Ashley Madison website is not exactly squeaky clean (then again how would they be) as hackers have recently stolen customers data. Scary, is it not? This included emails, names, home addresses and sexual fantasies as well.

They threatened to release all the data online if the website was not permanently closed. By July 22nd, the very first names of customers were released, and then on August 18th the rest of the data was released.

Keep that in mind, when you read the slogan Life is short. ‘Have an affair.’

Let us know what your thoughts are on ‘’cyber infidelity’’.

Sources: Medical Daily, Australian Journal of Counselling Psychology

Alice Paulse